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The Devil You Know: The Real Meanings Behind Demonic Band Names

Satan, seen here being all emo and shit
Satan, seen here being all emo and shit

I'm here to do two things, talk about band names and further the cause of Satan. And I'm all out of... Oh, wait, no. I've got plenty of both. Awesome! Let's get started.

Lots of bands, mostly metallic but not always, decide that they're going to up the edge factor on their existence by adopting the moniker of a real-life demon. This was a fairly impressive feat in the pre-Internet days when, in order to know exactly which demons were what, you actually had to go to the library and check out one of those books that gets your name put on a list.

With Halloween approaching, I thought it might be fun to better-know the dark powers lending their labels to your favorite musical groups.

Moloch: Fantastic, little-known metal masters Moloch out of Nottingham bear the title of one of the most famous demons in existence. Moloch's origins are noble. He began not as a demon, but as a god to the Phoenicians and Canaanites. His most notorious feature is demanding burning child sacrifices.

Though the claim comes to us from the Greeks and the Bible, and thus may have been an exaggeration or propaganda against the tribes, a temple discovered in 1966 reveals that such sacrifices may have indeed been true. Etymologists also theorized that Moloch may have been the name of the practice, not the god.

The Devil You Know: The Real Meanings Behind Demonic Band Names

Asmodeus: Houston's own darkwave group Asmodeus X is responsible for some of the finest spooky electronica in the state of Texas, if not America itself. Their demon Asmodeus is Jewish in origin, holding the title of King of Demons in the Book of Tobit. In one legend, he is the son of King David via a succubus. Another says he is the son of Adam through consort with Namaah, the angel of prostitution. He is usually linked with carnal sins, specifically coveting Earthly women. The angel Raphael is his nemesis.

Choronzon: The third album from the English black-metal group Akercocke (themselves named after a character from the demonic story of Faust) comes from a later demon rather than one from antiquity. Edward Kelly and John Dee included him in their studies on Enochian magic in the 16th century, and he is one of the most important figures in Aleister Crowley's Thelematic principles.

Choronzon is the demon of dispersion, the Dweller in the Abyss, and the last obstacle towards enlightenment. A magician must battle him to reach the final levels of Thelema. His opposition is the goddess Babalon.

 

If you can't draw this from memory, you're not a proper metal fan.
If you can't draw this from memory, you're not a proper metal fan.

Rahab: Let's take a break from the metal for a bit. Meet Rahab, super-indie act from the Philippines Singing in English, they're an interesting group with some really compelling vocals as well as an ear for a catchy guitar line. Who is Rahab? Well, in the Bible "rahab" means rage, and is used poetically to indicate Egypt itself.

In Jewish folklore, though, he is a massive sea monster associated with the Red Sea, and should be on par with other famous Biblical behemoths like Leviathan. Rahab's connection to chaos and water is reflected in his appearance in Soul Reaver, where many of the characters bear the names of Jewish monsters.

Astaroth: No less than 17 different metal bands have used the name of Astaroth, and his infamous seal has appeared in album artwork for bands like Tool and Dimmu Borgir. He gets his name from the Canaanite goddess Astarte, a being with power over sex and war that was later absorbed into the Greek and Egyptian pantheons. Biblical references to him are considered mistranslated allusions to her, but he comes into his own as an occult force in the seminal demonological text the Lesser Key of Solomon.

He is described as an angel with black wings wearing a crown and carrying a serpent. His job is temptation through laziness, vanity, and rationalized philosophies. To his worshipers he is a teacher of math and craftsmanship, can turn people invisible, lead them to hidden treasure, allow mortals to control snakes, and can answer any question. Consultation with him by magicians is usually bountiful, but he is still a powerful demon and therefore dangerous. St. Bartholomew is his enemy.


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